'Dark Knight' on Top for Third Straight Week

By Christy Lemire, AP Movie Writer

LOS ANGELES -- The Dark Knight Rises topped the box office for the third week in a row, making $36.4 million this past weekend.

The finale in Christopher Nolan's epic Batman trilogy has now made nearly $355 million domestically alone, according to Sunday estimates from Warner Bros. a unit of Time Warner ( TWX) .

Total Recall, starring Colin Farrell in a new take on the thriller that provided Arnold Schwarzenegger with one of his best-loved actions roles in 1990, opened in second place with $26 million, Columbia Pictures said. Columbia is a unit of Sony ( SNE).

And the Fox family comedy Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days debuted at No. 3 with $14.7 million. Fox is a unit of News Corp. ( NWS).

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Warner Bros. head of distribution Dan Fellman said he wasn't surprised by the film's strong showing in its third week; it only dropped 41% compared to the 43% drop in week three that The Dark Knight experienced in 2008. He also said the film is getting back on track to perform at its expected pace following the opening-night shooting in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 dead and 58 others injured.

"The support from audiences across North America has been outstanding," Fellman said. "The movie speaks for itself, and the unfortunate tragedy that took place hurt everyone. We're obviously very moved by the events that took place."

The Dark Knight Rises has now set an IMAX ( IMAX) record, he said, with nearly $48 million of the film's gross coming from the large-screen format. Nolan shot more than 40% of the film in IMAX with the intention of having it projected that way.

Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com, said he was surprised that The Dark Knight Rises held so well in its third week.

"It was the clear runaway favorite. I thought it would be a race for the No. 1 spot with 'Total Recall,'" he said. "'The Dark Knight' is rising above the fray and word of mouth is just tremendous on the film and people keep going back to see it."

Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution, said Total Recall opened close to the studio's high-$20 million estimate. But it was also No. 1 in many of the dozen international markets in which it opened, including India, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand for a total of $6.2 million. It expands to Europe and Latin America in upcoming weeks.

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